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in person, passed to windward of the British line, from the rear, as far as Hughes's flagship, which was fifth from the van. There he stopped, and kept at half cannon-shot, to prevent the four ships in the British van from tacking to relieve their consorts. It was his intention that the second half of his fleet should attack the other side of the English rear. This plan of intended battle is shown by the figure D in the diagram. Actually, only two of the French rear did what Suffren expected, engaging to leeward of the extreme British rear; the others of the French rear remaining long out of action (C). The figure C shows the imperfect achievement of the design D. However, as the position of Suffren's flagship prevented the British van from tacking into action, the net result was, to use Hughes's own words, that "the enemy brought eight of their best ships to the attack of five of ours." It will be noted with interest that these were exactly the numbers engaged in the first act of the battle of the Nile. The Exeter (like the Guerrier at the Nile) received the fresh broadsides of the first five of the enemy, and then remained in close action on both sides, assailed by two, and at last by three, opponents, — two 50's, and one 64. When the third approached, the master of the ship asked Commodore Richard King, whose broad pennant flew at her masthead, "What is to be done?" "There is nothing to be done," replied King, "but to fight her till she sinks." Her loss, 10 killed and 45 wounded, was not creditable under the circumstances to the French gunnery, which had been poor also at Porto Praya. At 6 P.m. the wind shifted to south-east, throwing all on the other tack, and enabling the British van at last to come into action. Darkness now approaching, Suffren hauled off and anchored at Pondicherry. Hughes went on to Trincomalee to refit. The British loss had been 32 killed, among whom were Captain William Stevens of the flagship, and Captain Henry Reynolds, of the Exeter,
and 83 wounded. The French had 30 killed; the number of their wounded is put by Professor Laughton at 100.
On the 12th of March Hughes returned to Madras, and towards the end of the month sailed again for Trincomalee carrying reinforcements and supplies. On the 30th he was joined at sea by the Sultan, 74, and the Magnanime, 64, just from England. Suffren had remained on the coast from reasons of policy, to encourage Hyder Ali in his leaning to the French; but, after landing a contingent of troops on the 22d of March, to assist at the siege of the British port of Cuddalore, he put to sea on the 23d, and went south, hoping to intercept the Sultan and Magnanime off the south end of Ceylon. On the 9th of April he sighted the British fleet to the south and west of him. Hughes, attaching the first importance to the strengthening of Trincomalee, had resolved neither to seek nor to shun action. He therefore continued his course, light northerly airs prevailing, until the 11th, when, being about fifty miles to the north-east of his port, he bore away for it. Next morning, April 12th, finding that the enemy could overtake his rear ships, he formed line on the starboard tack, at two cables' intervals, heading to the westward, towards the coast of Ceylon, wind north by east, and the French dead to windward (A, A). Suffren drew up his line (a) on the same tack, parallel to the British, and at 11 A.m. gave the signal to steer west-south-west all together; his vessels going down in a slanting direction (bb'), each to steer for one of the enemy. Having twelve ships to eleven, the twelfth was ordered to place herself on the off side of the rear British, which would thus have two antagonists.
In such simultaneous approach it commonly occurred that the attacking line ceased to be parallel with the foe's, its van becoming nearer and rear more distant. So it was here. Further, the British opening fire as soon as the leading French
were within range, the latter at once hauled up to reply. Suffren, in the centre, wishing closest action, signalled them to keep away again, and himself bore down wrathfully upon Hughes to within pistol-shot; in which he was supported closely by his next ahead and the two next astern. The rear of the French, though engaged, remained too far distant. Their line, therefore, resembled a curve, the middle of which — four or five ships — was tangent to the British centre (B). At this point the heat of the attack fell upon Hughes's flagship, the Superb, 74 (C, d), and her next ahead, the Monmouth, 64. Suffren's ship, the Heros, having much of her rigging cut, could not shorten sail, shot by the Superb, and brought up abreast the Monmouth. The latter, already hotly engaged by one of her own class, and losing her main and mizzen masts in this unequal new contest, was forced at 3 P.m. to bear up out of the line (m). The place of the Heros alongside the Superb was taken by the Orient, 74, supported by the Brillant, 64; and when the Monmouth kept off, the attack of these two ships was reinforced by the half-dozen stern chasers of the Heros, which had drifted into the British line, and now fired into the Superb's bows. The conflict between these five ships, two British and three French, was one of the bloodiest in naval annals; the loss of the Superb, 59 killed and 96 wounded, and of the Monmouth, 45 killed and 102 wounded, equalling that of the much larger vessels which bore the flags of Nelson and Collingwood at Trafalgar. The loss of the three French was 52 killed and 142 wounded; but to this should be added properly that of the Sphinx, 64, the Monmouth's first adversary: 22 killed and 74 wounded. At 3.40 P.m., fearing that if he continued steering west he would get entangled with the shore, Hughes wore his ships, forming line on the port tack, heading off shore. The French also wore, and Suffren hoped to secure the Monmouth, which was left between the two lines; but the quick